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Chancellor lays out her priorities for Cal Athletics

In response to a new report on Cal Athletics’ finances, and a set of recommendations, the chancellor sent a message to the campus community

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Chancellor Carol Christ today pledged to put UC Berkeley’s intercollegiate athletics program on a path to a balanced, sustainable budget while reaffirming her belief that “the core of our commitment to athletics must be the student-athlete experience.”

In a message sent to the campus and alumni communities, Christ described the principles and objectives that will guide her decisions on the future of Cal Athletics.

Chancellor Carol Christ“Berkeley can and will have an intercollegiate athletics program that reflects and embodies the aspirations and excellence that characterize our university as a whole,” she wrote.

The chancellor’s message was released in conjunction with a new report on Cal Athletics’ finances and a set of recommendations prepared by independent consultants with Collegiate Sports Associates (CSA), a leader in the field. While the CSA review determined that Cal Athletics’ expenses are largely in line with UC Berkeley’s peer institutions, it uncovered substantial untapped potential for revenue generation and philanthropy.

Other findings and recommendations include:

  • A proposal for a new, “disciplined” management program for team rosters.
  • An estimate that intercollegiate athletics could save $7 million to $8 million a year through outsourcing, eliminating staffing redundancies, reducing scholarship costs and changing certain financial procedures.
  • An estimate that intercollegiate athletics might be able to generate up to $10.5 million a year in new revenue through improved philanthropy, expanded opportunities for naming rights, better marketing and enhanced game-day experiences for fans.
  • A discussion of the need for clarity regarding the scope of the Cal Athletics program

In addition to prioritizing support for student-athletes’ academic and competitive needs, Chancellor Christ’s response to the report also:

  • Reaffirmed the campus’s commitment to gender equity and announced plans for a new approach to Title IX compliance.
  • Made clear that the intercollegiate athletics budget must be balanced by 2020 and endorsed the CSA’s focus on increasing revenues and philanthropy.
  • Confirmed her decision to have the campus take responsibility for the portion of the football stadium debt that is related to the cost of seismic retrofitting and construction.
  • Promised to simplify and make more transparent the manner in which funds flow between the campus and intercollegiate athletics.
  • Reiterated her belief that cutting sports must be a “last resort” and made clear that there will be no change in IA’s scope “until we have a better sense of the extent to which improved revenue generation and philanthropic support will address the program’s budgetary challenges.”

With the announcement of a new athletic director expected in April, the chancellor expressed her confidence that, given a deep and highly talented applicant pool, the campus will soon be, “introducing a person who will have the necessary skills and experience to help us build an intercollegiate athletics program that is both financially sustainable and capable of serving the needs and interests of our student-athletes.”